Cedar Waxwings Flummoxed By Snowvid Armageddon

Bird dynamics have been FUBAR during this frozen apocalypse. They appear to be much more sociable than in days of yore, flocking together and flying from icicle tree to icicle tree, wondering what in the name of the holy mother is going on. I know they are cedar waxwings because their little wingtips appear to have been dipped in red and yellow paint, and they wear that black mask which conveys a sense of outrage at Nature’s recent shenanigans. Here in central Texas, the old quote of “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” keeps popping up, as we continue yet more days sans water. Yup, it’s snowing, but we can’t drink that, although we’ve melted 14 gallons of it so far to use to flush toilets. Last week, we filled up some Arizona tea jugs with tap water, so we still have that. I suppose the birds can lick the icicles?

I braved my death by stepping onto our icy front porch to toss them handfuls of hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds out of an abundance of my own grace and mercy upon them. They flew away. Perhaps that’s why we call them bird brains.

Six Days Difference

This beautiful rye grass was our back yard six days ago. The oak tree was budding, and Roxie was free to spend hours in the sun. If you zoom in, you can see why she was agitated. A possum was hanging upside-down on the trellis. Can you see it?

Today, however, is a different story. Thursday’s ice storm bent the branches of that oak, and it will likely never recover. The cottonwood still stands tall, under a few feet of snow, the most we’ve ever had. My phone said 5 degrees when I awoke. Tonight we will reach a record-breaking one. We’ve dripped the faucets, but many of our friends and family have been without water for days and heat for hours. We are not allowed to travel until next weekend, due to layers of ice. Everything is closed all week. I will have to get creative with the one onion we have. Lentil soup? Tacos? We are down to one cup of milk. But we’ll be all right as long as we have heat and water and each other.

Spring, Interrupted

The weather keeps getting stranger and stranger. Last month, I saw more snow than had ever fallen in Austin in my life. This week will be the lowest temps we’ve ever weathered, dipping into single digits. We received a text from the county at lunch, urging folks not to travel for the next several days. The grocery stores are bare of meat, eggs, and milk.

Only days ago, spring had begun its first bloom, and now this.

Our oak tree, which had just begun to bud and stretched over 20 feet into the air, is now bowed down to the grass, branches breaking off every few hours.

Every home in our city has broken branches in its yard.

And our holly bush appears frozen in time, if not weeping from the sudden frost. Strange days indeed.

If You Needed Another Reason Not To Put Couches Outside

Indoor furniture belongs indoor. Couches don’t belong on porches or in front yards, as the fabric is not designed to repel moisture or the sun’s rays. They are breeding grounds for filth. And yet, I see them on the daily as I pass the nearby trailer homes. That’s a fact. It’s nasty, especially when the rare and brief rains come. But who knew there was ever a possibility in Austin, Texas of snow falling down from the heavens to blanket these cesspools of cushion? Not I. I’ve lived here nearly half a decade, and the most snow we’ve ever seen was back in 1985, at 3-7 inches, depending on your locale. I know that’s pathetic to you Yankees, but I verily say it unto you.

However, Mother Nature surprised us 48 hours ago with a snowfall, the likes of which no one under 60 years old has ever seen in central Texas. First it was sleet, that sound of clinking against the window, which I heard pre-dawn. Then a few hours later, tiny flakes. We all peered outside to see if it could truly be. Then flurries, then bigger flakes, steady as she goes. Then the green rye grass in our yard began disappearing.

We rarely get an hour solid of RAIN down here, much less snow.  Yet hour after hour, it snowed, not letting up until the entire area was blanketed in glorious white powder, as you can see below, on proper outdoor furniture.

The cacti were taken by surprise. They knew not what fell upon them.

Neighbors dug through the backs of their closets to find gloves and winter caps not worn in eons. We made our way outside. It was SO QUIET, like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Just soft snow falling upon snow. MAGICAL! And bit by bit, the children appeared. Snow Day! No school! The hoops and hollers began. Children who had never seen a flake were now able to make snowmen–actual human-sized snowmen, with a bit of effort and collaboration. And for one brief moment, we forgot about politics and the purge of free speech, the division and violence, the pandemic of nearly a year, and we exhaled. We remember what it felt like to be excited, giddy even. Our brains had recall on this feeling of joy.

It’s gone now. The slant of north-facing roofs still hosts slushy white patches, but it’s melting in the sun. The scenes that inspired us to suddenly spout Robert Frost poems have disappeared. But for a moment, it was magic. It was the best Monday in years. And though I may be in my grave before I ever see more than “trace amounts,” I am ever so grateful for the experience.

Watch Me Engineer This


In the middle of WWII, Curtis-Wright Cadettes at the University of Texas trained for vital war work, living in the Campus Guild and getting hands-on experience in engineering.

When nightfall came, however, they traded jumpsuits for feminine pajamas and flowy gowns. Or at least they did for this article.

Per https://archives.lib.purdue.edu, the Engineering Cadette Program was started in 1943 at seven universities: Purdue University, Cornell, Pennsylvania State University, University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Rensselear University, and University of Texas. During their time in the program, the women’s educational and lodging costs were covered by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, and they received a $10 per week stipend. The graduates of 1943 completed two and a half years of engineering curriculum in ten months. Upon completion of the program, the women were assigned positions in one of five Curtiss-Wright facilities in the country. Once the war was over, the majority of the women were replaced by returning male soldiers.

Tammy Wynette Caught Rolling With Her Homies

1969 Mirage

With a West Texas State University sticker on the window, students Becky, Judy, and Nancy load up the convertible to enjoy the spring of ’69, cruising the beat sans seatbelts, keeping it under 20mph, for fear that the wind may untease their fancy coifs.